My Coach

This is my coach being… special.


This next part is more of a rant for myself than anything. So you don't have to go any further.

I read an very raw and heartfelt blog from a fellow weightlifter on the Catalyst Athletics website. And it caused something to move in me. Now, I'll never claim I am or was anywhere near the competitive and strength awesomeness that Aimee has garnered in her lifting career. But it helped me come to terms with the notion that we all have to do this to our own end and for our own reasons. It sounds like a lot of her reasons for wanting to compete now and keep up appearances are extrinsic (coaches, teammates, new lifters that look up to her, etc.) while very little motivation is coming from a pure place within. And that can only get you so far. And this is what I realized in me…

I've never been a one sport person. As as dancer, I did ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and while one the high school dance/drill team, which should have taken up all my time being an officer, I still participated in Oddessey of the Mind. Okay, OM wasn't a sport, but the point is, I like being a dabbler. In college, I concurrently did dance, and judo, plus my nearly daily stints in the weight room. In grad school, I got into CrossFit, still did judo, some dance, capoeira, and dabbled in rock climbing. I still did some CrossFit and strength training when I was marathon training.

Then I started competitive weightlifting. Suddenly things changed.

(insert time warp flashback effects)

My last coach was a real hard ass about training. Once he saw potential in me, he expected me to train every day like I was planning at making a shot for the Olympic Team. There were no "light days" in the traditional sense, a light day to this coach meant that I would only aim for ~85-90% of my best in the lifts, and while you're there you might as well try a double at it. I was in the gym 6 days a week for 2.5 to 3 hours at a time. I had to be near tears exhausted for him to let me off the hook without a huge argument.

I trained really hard and did some great lifts at meets. I got really F-ing strong. But it wasn't just for me (maybe it was Stockholm Syndrome?), and it wore me down and burned me out after nearly two years of it. As the 2010 American Open approached, the coach thought I should add a supplemental training day on Sunday, but instead I fought tooth and nail to get a day off. On top of that, feeling suffocated with him trying to get his opinion on every aspect of my life and how it would affect my lifting, I fought for another day where I could train without him.

There were other big issues I had with that coach, and everything came to an explosive head a month before the 2010 American Open, one of the two senior level national lifting meets. I switched coaches, switched training and lifting styles, and still medaled at the meet.

This new coach is the opposite of overbearing. He has his plan, he knows what he's doing, and he wants everyone to do their best. BUT, he has three other National level lifters, and a slew of local competitors that he has to deal with. Suddenly I'm not the sole care of a coach, my push can't come from outside forces or from just trying to avoid a coach's meltdown. Add that to my many months of being burned out and fed up, and it's easy to see why my training has faltered.

But I realized another thing: I hate being a one sport person. In avoidance of old coach's freak outs, I never dabbled in other physical activities. The one time I went and played around with Strongman training, he flipped his shit. (You were tired for two days after that! Those were important days!) I have no doubt in my mind that my burn out from lifting was two fold - (1) training way too hard for way too long and (2) ONLY doing lifting to the demise of all other activity, physical or social.

So here is where I am: I will always train the lifts. I LOVE being strong, always have and always will. The Olympic lifts are amazing when you get that PR, they're fast, powerful, and technique driven. But I don't think I really care if I ever get close to a National title. I want to be a solid lifter, but do I care if someone takes my Pacific Weightlifting Association records? I don't think so. So now I'm in a transition where I have to be comfortable with that idea and not let other people's expectations of me as the local record breaker and someone who makes a national podium get to me.

I'm getting into pole dancing and ManFriend and I are getting into static trapeze and silks. We're looking to get all those apparatuses installed in our loft. Plus, it's really important to both myself and ManFriend that we have something we are both passionate about, something we can do together. And honestly, I really believe that the happiness from exploring other strength and performance activities will make me a better and more consistent lifter simply through smoothing out anxieties.

So here's to living by expectations set by no one else but yourself. :)